OMB hails progress on competitive sourcing

Agencies are in a better position than ever to compete federal jobs with the private sector, the Office of Management and Budget contends in a new report on the administration's competitive-sourcing effort.

The report is a follow-up to a July report that broadly detailed agencies' goals and progress.

The report comes as lawmakers debate whether to give the White House the funds it's seeking for its competitive-sourcing initiative. In many fiscal 2004 appropriations bills, lawmakers have added language to severely limit or kill funds for these efforts.

The new document lists the number of commercial positions each agency will compete, explains the types of eligible positions and gives examples of commercial jobs excluded from competition.

The Defense Department, for instance, plans on competing 67,800 positions ranging from administrative support to IT. Of the 20 agencies whose plans OMB has approved, 11 said they will compete IT, data center or telecommunications jobs.

The Small Business Administration said it will compete 69 percent of its positions'the highest of the 24 major agencies. Other agencies with plans to compete large numbers of jobs include the Education Department at 62 percent and the Army Corps of Engineers at 59 percent.

'We continue to make good progress in competitive sourcing,' said Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management. 'Agencies are moving forward with tailor-made plans that fit their missions, and more competitions are being held in a fair and open manner. We are confident that the savings and service benefits expected from this effort will soon follow.'

In the report, OMB said success would result from the development of the customized plans, high-level management oversight and the application of the revised OMB Circular A-76 rules for competing positions.

Cathy Garman, director of public policy for the Contract Services Association of America, a Washington industry group, said the report is a good way for OMB to get its message out.

'This gives Congress the information they need to understand where the administration is going,' she said. 'It also is a good synopsis for agencies to provide information to their employees, and it is good for the private sector as a resource. I don't think it is angled at one audience or another.'

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